Techniques and instrumentation are described for analyses of substances, including complex samples/mixtures that require separation prior to characterization of individual components. A method is disclosed for separation of ion mixtures and identification of ions, including protein and other macromolecular ions and their different structural isomers. Analyte ions are not free to rotate during the separation, but are substantially oriented with respect to the drift direction. Alignment is achieved by applying, at a particular angle to the drift field, a much stronger alternating electric field that "locks" the ion dipoles with moments exceeding a certain value. That value depends on the buffer gas composition, pressure, and temperature, but may be as low as .about.3 Debye under certain conditions. The presently disclosed method measures the direction-specific cross-sections that provide the structural information complementing that obtained from known methods, and, when coupled to those methods, increases the total peak capacity and specificity of gas-phase separations. Simultaneous 2-D separations by direction-specific cross sections along and orthogonally to the ion dipole direction are also possible.